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Raise the Red Lantern


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#1 Philip Ulanowsky

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 04:10 PM

I had the pleasure of seeing this film this past week, and am so grateful for those who recommended it to me. I, in turn, would like to recommend it to anyone looking for something beyond the gratuitous sex and violence, whiz-bang special effects, exploding sound tracks, and whatever else permeates so much of our various media experiences today. If I sound like a dinosaur, I'm unrepentant.

Raise the Red Lantern, directed by Yimou Zhang with cinematography by Lun Yang and Fei Zhao, is more than just a captivating film. In my view, it fits the requirements of a true Classical tragedy in the definition of Friederich Schiller adn others. There is no hero, nor is there simply one person with a fatal flaw, as tragedy is so often taught these days. It is the society as a whole which has characteristic flaws, as represented in microcosm in the drama, and the hero, potentially, sits in the audience -- someone who, seeing this play out before him or her, and recognizing the truth therein, determines to do something to change it, even if by only becoming a better person.

I could compare this with any number of other films which fail in this regard, though they might appear to be similar. I walked away from one half-way through, recently. I had thought to watch it because Kevin Costener is a good actor. But it turned out to be, in my opinion, a meaningless portrayal of decadence. Maybe I missed something.

In any case, it had none of the cinematic elegance of Raise the Red Lantern. In the latter, everything has a carefully chosen purpose; each composition is designed with exceptional care, with visual metaphor used not only here and there but thematically and coherently throughout; the use of color is striking.

This is a quiet film, that draws the viewer into the treacherous world within the walls of the rich man's "family traditions." For any serious film student, anyone interested in the potentials of the medium, it deserves a place high on the list.
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#2 Srikanth

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 05:22 PM

I have loved all of Zhang yimou's films and definitely this one got a well-deserved oscar. I liked "Not one less" equally the same, but it got a bit too melodramatic in the end.

The beauty of "Raise the red lantern" is in creating an engaging film with limited locations and still maintaining the grandeur through colors, lighting in cinematography !!
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#3 Elias Luna

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:46 PM

I remember the cinematography being really beautiful, and the colors overpowering. However, as a film I thought it was really long-winded and for lack of a better word, dull at moments. Though that is chinese cinema, very slow paced, unlike us westerners we need it quick and frequent, even in our "artsy" movies. Hero and House of Flying Daggers are not only beautiful but much more engaging.
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